Tag Archives: Reading

Mama Monday: 5 Picture Books for Belly Laughs

Oh, hello there! How was your weekend? Did you rest? Did you party? Did you have at least a little fun? I hope your answers are: yes, yes, and A LOT.

This past weekend was hubby’s and my 7th wedding anniversary. Has it really been 7 years already? Seems like yesterday and eons ago all at the same time. I don’t know how that works.

We celebrated by running the Fifteen’s 5k in Minneapolis. I highly recommend this race! It is so well-organized and for a great cause. The hills are a doozy at times, but I had a good guy encouraging me the whole way. I’ll write a more detailed review later this week, but for now…just get it on your calendar as soon as you can! (The date ranges from the last Sunday in July to the first Sunday in August from what I’ve seen so far.)

Onto today’s Mama Monday topic! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about quality time with my Lula. There’s nothing I wish for more than to spend MUCH more time with her than I do. Being a working mom presents its own challenges, and I struggle with so much mom guilt for being a full-time librarian. Lula has a wonderful daycare provider, and I know she needs the social interaction with kids. That doesn’t stop me from wishing I could be with her more often, though.

The time I spend with her is important to me. I have been working on certain things that interfere with my time with her, like aimlessly surfing or playing games on my phone. I am trying my hardest to enjoy the time we do have together. And what better way to spend our time together than laughing?

One way she and I connect is through books, and she LOVES a funny book. Here are five of our very favorites I recommend you check out from your local library.

  1. The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak

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    My BFF gave me this book for a Christmas gift a few years ago. The first time I read the title to Lula earlier this year, she immediately said, “I don’t want a book with no pictures!” It only took two pages before she was hooked and begging for it again and again and again. Because…every single thing the page says? The reader HAS to read it out loud. Even if it means you turn into a singing robot monkey. Or…BLORK.

    Be ready for lots of giggles with this one. Especially if you’ve already read it a few times and your kiddo knows what’s coming. Even if they don’t know how to read, they’ll barely be able to contain themselves as they wait for you to say the words, “A HIPPO NAMED BOO-BOO BUTT.”

  2. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

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    There’s something so charming about listening to your preschooler respond to a book as though they were actually talking with the characters in it. To know that you can help them travel into a world where they can actually talk to their silly pal, Pigeon? Too cute.

    In this book, the busdriver explicitly instructs you to NOT let the pigeon drive the bus. Pigeon has other ideas and is ready to do/say ANYTHING to get his way. Lula laughs but remains steadfast in saying, “NO, Pigeon! No way!” when he argues with her.

    Pigeon has lots more adventures after this first one, so I recommend any Pigeon books you can find. In fact, I recommend any Mo Willems title that exists. He is just excellent.

  3. Toot by Leslie Patricelli

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    By the age of 3, many preschoolers believe there aren’t many things funnier than a good ol’ fashioned fart. Leslie Patricelli realized this and made it into a whole board book starring her beloved character, the baby. All of the baby books are entertaining, but none of them elicit giggles quite like this one.

    There’s not much more I have to say for this one. Just be ready to make lots of different bodily function noises. And you might just get the giggles, too.

  4. Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton

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    Sandra Boynton is another well-known name in our household. Her anthropomorphic critters are a little quirky and a whole lot of fun. With this particular book, Lula loves it because it gives her a chance to read to me.

    The premise is simple. Four critters wear variously colored pieces of clothing. Everything is fine until you get to turkey. Turkey doesn’t seem to know exactly how to wear clothing. For example, he wears his pants on his arms and his coat on his beak. Ooops!

    It’s easy for Lula to “read” to me by identifying the color and piece of clothing each animal is wearing. And she thinks it’s HILARIOUS to say “Ooops” each time she sees the turkey. She looks up at me to make sure I’m laughing, too. And I am, just from seeing her delight in reading to Mama. Simple text that still manages to be incredibly engaging for preschoolers.

  5. Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown

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    Our copy of this book is so well-worn and loved that I’m considering replacing it. Even though it is a board book, I can’t imagine not reading it frequently to Lula, even as she gets older. It has been a favorite of hers since she could form opinions.

    Although it isn’t intentionally super funny, it has an amazing beat to it as the title suggests. She loves the beat and the words and the dancing farm animals. And I actually have fun trying to rap the words. So it garnered some bonus mama points.

    There’s also the opportunity to read the words really fast toward the end, and that leaves Lula laughing long after the book is done.

It was SO hard to choose 5 books! Because we love a million more of them.

What are you favorite picture books to read with your kiddos?

SHOP

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The Sound of Silence

I’m aware I’ve been quieter than usual. Which is really quiet, because I’ve been pretty absent from here lately. My brain has been a completely different story, though. I kinda wish my brain would shut up, because it’s really good at blabbing and chatting and screaming at me until I think, “Brain, I’m mad. Be quiet.” And Brain is all, “MAKE ME.” And then I sigh and try to find various ways to make it shut up. They don’t usually work. If they do work, they’re self-destructive.

But Brain is happier when I’m staying organized and on track and mindful of my thoughts/feelings/habits. That has been my goal these last few weeks. Re-organizing. Committing to meeting my goals and making plans for how I will get there.

My weekly plan comes out in Bullet Journal form, and I like it. It looks like a lot of work to some people, but for me, the work is soothing. I enjoy having some time to just mindlessly draw lines and dots, time where I’m just following my own template to make my days better and more structured. I need structure, and I guess this is just a visual representation of it all.

Last week, I finished Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. It was such a moving account of mental illness and all the ways it can rock you in your heart and guts and brain. Some things were so well-described that I physically began reacting to them and feeling old feelings. Probably not super helpful for someone currently going through tough times with anxiety/depression and wanting to avoid triggers. I think it would be fantastic for someone trying to understand, though. It has a hopeful message, and we all need that.

Now I’m working on This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel, and I’m hooked. Lots of good stuff sitting in my TBR pile right now, too. Eeek. Never enough hours in the day for books.

Other than that, I’m just working hard to get myself back on that proverbial horse again. This morning’s run was super-humid, which I should probably force myself to adjust to. But I don’t like humidity at all, and it just feels like a punishment when you make the effort to wake at 5:00 AM only to be hit in the face with bathwater when you go outside.

The flowers blooming in our yard, though, provided a pretty end to a very sweaty run.

Here’s to a not-too-sweaty, happy week for all of us!

SHOP

 

 

 

 

P.S. Obligatory goofy kid/goofy dog pictures.

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Ballerinas and Catsby and Wine-infused Coffee

And we meet again. On a Friday. Yay! Long weekend. Woo! Party time. Yeah!

Okay, that’s out of the way. This week was significantly less eventful on my end, and darnit, I like it that way. I still feel like I’m recovering from last week’s hustle and bustle.

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My baby had her first dance recitals this weekend. I was on stage with her (it was a “You & Me” class for caregivers and children, and though my role was minimal, I was still absolutely drained by the end of the weekend.

She did well, though. She smiled. She listened to me onstage (backstage was a different story). I guess that’s what matters. She loves to dance, and I think she’s going to be very good at it.

Other than that, the week has contained minimal excitement or activity. I’m re-framing my goals right now and really taking into consideration the things I need to do to achieve them.

Web-flavored Goodness

  • Sad news coming out of the running community. Gabe Proctor, a former NCAA champion, died by suicide last week. Nobody, regardless of their successes or kind heart or circumstances, is immune to depression and mental health issues. My thoughts have been with his family and friends.
  • I think I’ve referenced Mirna before in my blog. If I haven’t, I should have. Because this article made me say, “YUS, GIRL,” out loud as I was reading it.

“Lastly, I am beautiful. The entire running community is beautiful. And we determine that. Not you.”

  • Wine is good for you. We keep hearing this. So let’s skip the chit-chat, and I’ll break out the corkscrew. (Obligatory: moderation, people. Practice moderation.) (And sidenote, that article opened my eyes to the fact that there is now wine-infused coffee. This really blurs the structure of my day.)
  • One of my favorite cities on this planet held a memorial 5k. For a cat. Named Catsby. If it wasn’t dance recital weekend, I may have considered attending.
  • Yes. That’s all.

H’okay! I hope your long weekend is relaxing and fun and productive/unproductive (depending on what you want it to be) and filled with sparkles and rainbows and love. See you next week!

SHOP

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Just because.

Well. I’ve been absent again. It has been a long week, and I honestly haven’t even known what to write about. So I didn’t.

Except that I kinda did. Thank you so very much to the Minneapolis Running folks again for publishing another article of mine. I was able to tackle a tough subject that comes up frequently on my blog: mental health. I hope you enjoy it and find some use from it, even if you don’t have issues with your mental health.

ALSO! The next day, they hosted a live video with none other than Sarah Bowen Shea, who is honestly one of my very favorite people ever. I constantly rave over Another Mother Runner, so if you haven’t checked them out by now…honestly, what are you waiting for?

So now: let’s have a conversation and catch up a little. How have you been? How’s the fam?

Fine, thanks. Whatcha been eating lately?

I’ve really been continuing the effort to meal plan and prepare ahead of time. It makes my life sooooo much less stressful. We’ve tried several new recipes these past few weeks, and there have been hits and misses.

Quinoa goes over well with my kiddo and husband. Especially in more Mexican-centric dishes. Or cheesy. Stuffed pepper soup was my favorite. The creamy avocado pesto pasta above? Big fail. And not even good for leftovers, because I am not a fan of  the color/flavor of avocado when it’s more than a few minutes old.

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I also jumped into the world of Shakeology. I’m sure most of you are familiar with it or have at least heard about it/read about it in your Facebook newsfeed. I’d been on the fence for quite sometime, because I try not to get too caught up in anything that is associated with MLM. But after forgetting to make breakfast for myself several days in a row, it seemed like something to at least try.

So far, I’m not disappointed one bit. It’s quick. I have a billion recipes to try, and I’ve loved the ones I’ve tried so far (including birthday cake, Kit Kat, sunshine creamsicle, and peanut butter cup). And it keeps me FULL. Fuller than I thought possible with a shake. I’ll continue to try this month and see how it goes, but it is a luxury that makes my mornings easier so far. Some days, I need all the help I can get.

Great. What have you been up to?

Not running. Oops, am I supposed to admit that? I ran a couple times last week. This week? Nada. Hubby is out of town for the whole week on a work trip, and I’ve been hopping. It is our last week of dance before summer, and it includes dance rehearsals and two recitals this weekend. Throw in an out-of-town work conference, two cats & one dog, and a kid with mood swings worse than a Sourpatch Kid? I’m fried. My house is a war-zone. I’m basically throwing kibble on the floor for all the critters to consume. I may have even bathed LJ with a few baby wipes at one point this week. (Don’t worry. She got a bath the next night.)

I literally found a plate of LJ’s dinner turned over on the living room floor last night. It had dried and crusted to the plate by the time it was flipped over, though, so the carpet was completely unscathed. An embarrassing sort of victory.

As for last weekend, Mother’s Day was…good. I am blessed to be a mom. I am blessed to have so many lovely women in my life and my daughter’s life. But it also is a day filled with inner-turmoil for me and for others, I know. For me, I have a fractured relationship with the person I most want to celebrate. I love her so very much, and I miss her. I hope things can be better some day, but that doesn’t make Mother’s Day less painful now.

The other person I want to celebrate with is my grandmother, whom I’ve written about in the past. She meant and still means so much to me, so LJ and I made a trip to visit her and Grandpa’s burial site. We talked with them, and LJ gave them many hugs and kisses. We brought flowers and thanked Grandma for being wonderful. We had conversations about life and death, and I was honest with LJ, even when it was painful for me and confusing for her. I won’t hide my grief, because I want her to know how amazing her great-grandma was.

Because hubby left the day before Mother’s Day, he and LJ both found ways to make me feel loved that weekend. They sent flowers to me at work on Saturday, and LJ slept in until 9:00 Sunday morning. What a darling.

What are you reading?

Oh, boy. I’ve got a gigantic TBR list, and I realized how far behind I am on my reading goal for the year. So I’ve been cruising through the chapters these last few days. I just finished a wonderful/tragic graphic novel called Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love by Marissa Moss. Highly recommended, but it will pull at your heart. This is a bleak one, but it captures the reality some people face when their loved one is faced with terminal illness.

I’m in the process of tackling Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a short read but I’m taking a little extra time to digest each “chapter.”

Also in line to finish up Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig soon.

Okay, great. Anything else?

I’m running the TC 10 Mile, thanks to the Mother Runner crew! I’m soooooo excited, because this was one of my favorite races ever. So I’m back in training-planning mode with a renewed energy. I’ll reach my goals someday, and this was a big boost.

Also, this is my workplace, and I love it. Especially when the sky is shiny happy:

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This post ended up being much longer than anticipated. Hopefully I learn to break it up a little bit in the future, but you know how I operate…silence and then surprise.

SHOP

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FriYAY

The sun is shining. The skies are blue. It’s Friday. The stars are aligned or the gods are finally happy with us or Mother Nature is just in a really damn good mood. Any way you cut it, today is beautiful in my neck of the woods, and I hope it’s great for you, too.

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Lunch breaks: deck, book, food. Win.

I found my way out on the beaten trail a couple of times this week, and I have a “race” tomorrow, if you can call it that. It’s a local event that sponsors local families dealing with serious illnesses. Always gives you the happy tingly feelings inside your heart to see so many community members getting together for a good cause. And it’s nice to have companions on my usual running paths!

This week has also provided opportunities to get outside as a family, something we never do enough of. I’m not sure if it’s easier or more difficult now that LJ is older, but she’s an active kiddo. So anything that helps tucker her out is good in my book.

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I’ve been really contemplating my relationship with food these past few weeks, as is evidenced by the great sugar fast of April 2017. (Y’know…by great, I mean 3 whole days sugar-free and a few more days mostly sugar-free.) It’s part of my unofficial “health reset” where I basically start building myself brick-by-brick again.

I’ve observed my behavior, and I am noticing a trend. If I start eating refined sugar earlier in the day, I want it all day. If I abstain for a while, I’m less likely to crave it and think about it. So whatever that’s worth…I don’t know.

This article seemed to hit at exactly the right time, though. It preaches kindness, and that’s what I need to remember.

The most important one that is helping me be kinder to myself every day? Find what works for you.

What works for you may not work for someone else—and that is okay. When it comes to food (and running and life…) it is okay to experiment. You may make a mistake. Something may not work for you. But, you’ll learn from it and move on.

This morning, I woke up, thought about the snacking I did after I got home from work last night, and my mind immediately thought, “You eat garbage. You are garbage.”

I caught myself. I was surprised, because I realized these are thoughts I have often but don’t often stop myself from having. This morning, I corrected myself: “You didn’t eat great last night. It satisfied some need or desire you had, even if it wasn’t the healthiest way to do it. Today will be better, starting…now.”

I didn’t 100% believe myself, but I believe there’s some merit to the phrase “Fake it ’til you make it.”

Well, before I pack up and head out for the weekend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t wish you a belated happy Star Wars Day.

Here’s my little Wookiee with her Wookiee hair and her Wookiee shirt. And my dog, because…Chewbarka.

SHOP

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1/21/17: Sorta Silent Saturday – Picture Dump Edition

Careful for your dial-up internets (JK), because this post is picture HEAVY! Gotta get my vacation photos out there somewhere. If you’re looking for captions, you may or may not have to hover over the photos.

Here we go!

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Bye, L.A.!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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1/11/17: Whatever Wednesday

As of 6:30 PM tonight, I am on vacation. Technically, I finished work at 5:00, but Dino-kid had dance class tonight. And going to dance class, although only a half hour long, is a feat in and of itself. It is work. Wonderful work, but work nonetheless.

I don’t know if I feel like I’m on vacation yet, but I think it is sorely needed. I love my job. I love my life. But it’s probably time for a breather. I’m still feeling pretty lousy about my ankle sprain, and I just.want.to.run. But I don’t run, and then I sabotage pretty much everything. It’s a vicious cycle, and I’ve got to change it.

For my Wednesday round-up of whatever, I’m focusing on being kind to myself. So I was pleased to see this article in my inbox from Minneapolis Running. (Lots of hearts for MPLS Running, btw.) How to overcome a setback. I think that verbiage is important. Get control, have a plan, gain perspective. And lots of good stuff in between.

This is a good reminder of why we should take care of ourselves.

Aaaand, I made some awesome purchases recently, and they all arrived in the mail today.

Two of them were apparel. A TeeTurtle shirt with my fave lady. And an amazingly comfortable SparkleSkirt. Can’t wait to get running and represent HRC.

Tough to get a good picture that didn’t include toddler elbows and such, but I tried. I’ll have better ones in the future.

Okay. Like I said. Vacation. Hoping to update the ol’ blog during California time, but if doesn’t, I’m sure you’ll understand. And you probably won’t even notice I’m gone. 😉

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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1/6/17: Biblio-Friday

So I’m trying something new today. In celebrating the intended spirit of bookish-ness that I wanted this blog to have, I want to focus on books, libraries, or the literary world in general for at least one segment a week. Let’s see how it goes!

Books!

What are your reading goals this year? I’ve already mentioned I want to read 50 pages per day. (Day 6 of the year, and I’m going strong!) Hopefully that will end up being enough to read 50 books, as that’s what I’ve set for my GoodReads challenge.

Just finished up The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom for my monthly book club. I read it in just a few days, because it was intricate, captivating, and brilliantly written. The characters were written with honesty and believability, and you couldn’t help but love the lovable ones and hate the hateable ones. Highly recommended.

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My current TBR pile from the library…I might have a problem. And I also might not care too much if I have a problem.

These past few days, I’ve been working on If at Birth, You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner. Have you seen Zach Anner before? You may remember him from his various shows/projects. If you don’t remember him, you should check him out. Hilarious and smart and well-spoken. I can hear his voice come through when I read the book, and it’s a nice light read about sometimes-kinda-heavy topics.

Libraries!

As someone who struggles with seasonal changes, I am highly interested to see that the Lawrence Public Library is offering light therapy for their patrons suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I kinda love it, and I wish I could try it out! I was surprised at the low-ish cost of the lamps, too.

More Bookish-ness!

Anyone a member of the Hogwarts Running Club? After being a lurker for awhile, I’ve really started to enjoy getting involved. Anywho, they announced their first virtual race of the year: the Mad Eye Moody 5k. Look at that medal! And what a great cause. #somuchgood

Aaaaannnnddd…I may have a SparkleSkirt on the way to me soon. Eeeee! When you mix running and reading, well, you know I’m gonna geek out.

Have a lovely weekend, my special snowflakes!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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